Post-Concussive Headaches

What Are Post-Concussive Headaches?

Post-concussive headaches are headaches that occur after concussions, often as part of post-concussion syndrome. Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries caused by blunt trauma, shaking, and other sudden force applied to the head. Post-concussion syndrome symptoms generally begin to manifest within 10 days after the concussion, and usually go away within three months. However, post-concussion syndrome can sometimes persist for a year or even longer. Note that the likelihood and severity of post-concussion syndrome is not closely correlated with the severity of the injury: a severe concussion may produce only mild post-concussion symptoms, and vice versa.

What Are the Symptoms of Post-Concussive Headaches?

Post-concussive headaches, like all symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, manifest differently from person to person.
Here are ten distinctive signs of post-concussive headaches:

– Headaches that begin within a week or two of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI/MTBI)

– Ringing in the ears

– Blurred vision

– Sensitivity to light and sound

– Fatigue

– Irritability

– Difficulty concentrating

– Memory lapses

– Anxiety

– Insomnia

Note that if headaches continue for more than a year following the concussion, diagnosis of another condition (cervicogenic headaches, migraines, etc.) may be more accurate. Discuss with your doctor or neurologist to make sure your diagnosis is accurate and up-to-date. In some cases, veterans may receive a diagnosis of “post-concussive headaches” that is maintained as a placeholder diagnosis for headaches that continue many years after the initial traumatic brain injury.

Proving Service Connection and Unemployability for Post-Concussive Headaches

Veterans with post-concussive headaches are eligible for service connection if their headaches were diagnosed in service, within twelve months of discharge, or as a secondary condition to another service-connected impairment. Service medical treatment records, VA medical records, and records of other doctor and clinic visits can help you establish service connection for your post-concussive headaches.

Like all headache conditions, post-concussive headaches are evaluated for service connection using the rating schedule for migraine headaches (see the section below). This is because there are no rating schedules for other headache conditions. Instead, they are considered “closely analogous” to migraines under the regulation 38 CFR 4.20. As a result, the highest possible schedular disability rating for post-concussive headaches is 50 percent. A 50 percent rating is given to veterans who experience “completely prostrating and prolonged attacks” (headaches that are so bad that the veteran must lie down) several times each month.

However, veterans with severe headaches that require them to lie down for prolonged periods on a regular basis often find that day-to-day functioning is severely impacted by their headaches, as is their ability to work a full-time job requiring regular attendance. Clearly, such individuals deserve more compensation than a 50 percent rating can provide. Friedman Disability has successfully proven to the VA numerous times that veterans with frequent, prostrating headaches are unable to secure and follow substantially gainful occupations, the standard for full unemployability benefits. In such cases, veterans with debilitating headaches are generally assigned total disability ratings based on individual unemployability (TDIU ratings), and paid monthly compensation at the 100 percent in addition to any past-due benefits that may be awarded.

Statements from other servicemembers, coworkers, or family members who can attest to the debilitating and prostrating nature of your post-concussive headaches can help you win full unemployability. Keeping a headache journal will also help prove the frequency and severity of your headaches to the VA.

Rating Schedule for Post-Concussive Headaches

Like all headache conditions, post-concussive headaches are evaluated using the schedule for migraine headaches, with a maximum schedular rating of 50 percent.

50 Percent:
With very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability

30 Percent:
With characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over last several months

10 Percent:
With characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over last several months

0 Percent (Noncompensible):
With less frequent attacks

Win Total Disability Benefits for Your Headaches with Friedman Disability

Over 25 years of representing veterans in the VA disability claims process, the experienced advocates at Friedman Disability have developed a nuanced understanding of the evidence and legal arguments needed to win TDIU ratings for a wide variety of conditions, including headaches. Our award-winning disability attorneys will make it as easy as possible to navigate the VA claims process, appeal your rating decision, gather evidence, and win total disability benefits. If you or a loved one who served in the U.S. Armed Forces cannot work due to their headaches or another service-connected impairment, having a team of professional veteran advocates gives you the best chance of winning maximum benefits. Our fee is 20 percent of your past-due benefits ONLY if we win your claim. Call our offices today at 800-742-5035, or visit to get started with a free disability claim evaluation.